The 2015 RM Sotheby's Auctions in Michigan

Including a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Coupe sold at $121,000.

RM AuctionsphotographerDave Kinneywriter

Plymouth, Michigan
July 25, 2015

Feature Car: 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Coupe
Sold at $121,000

S/N 111.026.12.001787
Graubau Metallic (medium blue) over parchment leather interior. 230-hp, 3.5-liter OHV V-8; four-speed automatic transmission. Excellent paint with only slight cracking where the hood closes. Very good chrome. The parchment leather upholstery looks virtually new. The engine bay is clean but hardly concours-quality, with tired rubber and an incorrect battery.

The Story Behind the Sale

By 1969 the earlier "finback" Mercedes sedans were finally being replaced by the new W108/W109 chassis that featured clean, modern bodywork. Nevertheless, Mercedes-Benz continued building coupes and cabriolets on the former W111 chassis, thus preserving the elegant coachwork that had debuted in 1959 on the Mercedes 220 SE. These two-door W111 models were among the last hand-built Mercedes-Benz automobiles and remained in production until July 1971.

Though the new 3.5-liter M116 V-8 would now power these two-door cars, the model nomenclature remained the same, except a chrome 3.5 badge now came after the 280 SE designation. This new engine produced 200 horsepower and gave the 280 SE 3.5 a top speed of about 130 mph. These Benzes were considered the automaker's top-of-the-line luxury models and came with automatic transmission, power windows, air-conditioning, and stereo radios as standard equipment. This car has the desirable setup with the shift lever on the floor, as opposed to the more common shift lever on the steering column.

Add this to the list of cars that continue to garner collector interest, a classic in the making. With that interest comes an increase in value as well. Good (but not great) 280 SE 3.5s can be found at a much lower price than this, but you better find one soon because the gap is closing fast.

1984 Chevrolet Corvette
Sold at $19,250

S/N 1G1AY0787E5132877
Silver and gray over gray cloth interior. 205-hp, 5.7-liter OHV V-8; "4+3" manual transmission. Very good to excellent paint with only a small blemish on top of the rear spoiler. The wheels are unmarked. The interior with its cloth upholstery is immaculate; so is the engine bay. Of course, with less than 1,440 miles, it should appear like new.

The fourth generation of the Corvette (1984-1996) was basically all-new. The C4's sleek styling and lightweight, carefully integrated chassis set carmakers in Britain, Germany, and Japan back on their heels. It was so fast on the racetrack that the SCCA even exiled the car to its own one-make series, the Corvette Challenge. This example has T-tops, a functional glass hatchback, and digital LCD instrument readouts. Though emissions-strangled power output makes this car seem unsexy, it is
an almost new Corvette for less than $20,000.

1961 Chrysler 300G Convertible
Sold at $121,000

S/N 8413197153
Mardi Gras Red over white leather interior. 375-hp, 6.8-liter V-8; three-speed automatic transmission. Good to very good paint with some visible orange peel around the driver's side headlight. Very good chrome. The interior is excellent with incredibly soft leather upholstery. Nicely detailed engine bay for the "wedge" V-8 with chrome parts. One of 337 examples of the 300G convertible built in 1961.

The 300G was the seventh edition of Chrysler's "letter series" of high-performance cars and the last to exhibit Virgil Exner's lean, rocket-style "Forward Look." In addition to Exner's well-known oversize fins, the G models featured offset stacked headlights. The ribbed-style trunklid had become standard; the taillights were placed on either side of the body below the trunk opening and above the bumper. Big and expensive, the Chrysler letter-series cars are considered by some to be ancestors of muscle cars.

Best Buy

1960 Pontiac Bonneville Sport Coupe
Sold at $71,500

S/N 860P21034
Coronado Red over two-tone red and gray vinyl interior. 318-hp, 6.4-liter OHV V-8; four-speed automatic transmission. Excellent paint and chrome; the interior is just as nice. The engine bay has been meticulously detailed. This car was restored to an extremely high level.

Very sporty indeed, as it has the 6.4-liter Tri-Power V-8 with its three two-barrel carbs and a sequential throttle linkage. Also a Hydra-Matic transmission, bucket seats, power steering, power brakes, and power windows, not to mention rare A/C. The RM Sotheby's catalog says this drivetrain is all-original. This Bonneville also has the eight-lug Pontiac wheels that were available only in 1960. The restoration was reported to cost $150,000. It shows in this exceptional example from the era when Bunkie Knudsen saved Pontiac with a sporty image, a wide-track chassis, and NASCAR racing.

Big Money

1929 Stutz Model M Four-Passenger Speedster
Sold at $302,500

S/N M8-43-CY17A
Black over gray leather interior. 113-hp, 5.3-liter SOHC inline-eight; three-speed manual transmission. Good to very good paint with many scratches; the chrome shows surface corrosion. The upholstery is excellent. The carpets are dirty, and the steering wheel and column show plenty of paint chips.

Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, Stutz was known for its premium-price performance cars. It even had an international following, especially after a second-place finish at Le Mans in 1928. This car has been in three of the finest collections, owned by Miles Collier, Briggs Cunningham, and Bill Ruger. It's surprisingly sporty for a large four-door car, and it's perfect for driving events since you wouldn't want to pay to put this back into as-new condition. Sold for the middle of the presale estimate,
the price is no surprise.

1972 BMW 2002
Sold at $38,500

S/N 2581201
Golf Yellow over black leatherette interior. 100-hp, 2.0-liter SOHC inline-four; four-speed manual transmission. The paint, chrome, and glass are excellent. The interior is top-notch. Later-model BMW sport seats. A few small flaws, but overall as nice as they come.

The 2002 was the ultimate expression of BMW's "New Class" series of small sedans and coupes introduced in 1962. These Michelotti-styled, practical-size cars not only helped make BMW's reputation as a specialist in sport sedans but also saved the company from insolvency. The 02 Series brought together the original sedan platform with a smaller and lighter two-door unibody. Some 196,845 examples of the 2002 were produced between January 1968 and June 1975, RM Sotheby's says. Sadly, rust claimed many, so finding one this good is not easy.

1950 Buick Roadmaster Limousine
Sold at $44,000

S/N 16340056
Dark Cobalt Blue over dark blue leather and light blue broadcloth interior. 200-hp, 5.2-liter OHV I-8; two-speed automatic transmission. Excellent repaint; very good chrome. A custom roofline and padded top. All the windows are power-operated. The interior shows only minimal signs of use. Only a little more than 53,800 miles on
the odometer.

A one-off limousine believed to have been specially built for GM vice president (and later president) Harlow Curtice. This Roadmaster spent time in several known collections and has been kept in very good order. Curtice saved the Buick Division during the Great Depression then became president and CEO of General Motors from 1952 until his retirement in 1958. During this time GM became the first company to make $1 billion in profits in one year.

1951 Frazer Manhattan Convertible Sedan
Sold at $55,000

S/N F516-00102
Yellow over black leather interior. 115-hp, 3.7-liter inline-six; four-speed automatic transmission. Good paint and chrome. The car is said to have never been completely restored, and it shows. The panel fit is inconsistent; the exterior rubber is dry and cracked. The interior is barely good because of stretched upholstery and loose stitching. Less than 66,000 miles on the odometer.

Former Graham-Paige sales executive Joseph Frazer and innovative industrialist Henry J. Kaiser dissolved their partnership in 1951, and only 10,000 cars bore the Frazer name that year. The Kaiser brand lasted in the automobile business until 1955. This convertible is said to be one of two pilot-production cars later used by Henry J. himself. Because Kaiser retired to Hawaii, the car's 1962 registration sticker from the Aloha State seems to confirm the car's history. Interesting does not always equate with valuable, yet still a good car with a good story.

1958 Mercury Montclair Hardtop Coupe
Sold at $33,000

S/N M8WB527967
Cream and tan over cream and tan vinyl interior. 400-hp, 7.0-liter OHV V-8; three-speed automatic transmission. Good to very good paint with some fading. The chrome is good but shows surface corrosion. The exterior rubber is cracking. The original upholstery is encased in plastic and noticeably dirty. The interior trim is good but shows a lot of wear.

This Merc's original 6.3-liter V-8 was swapped out for a 7.0-liter, 400-hp Super Marauder unit early on. The Super Marauder could be special ordered, and this one was built to "near NASCAR" specs. The car also has power steering, a push-button Merc-O-Matic transmission, tinted windows, dual outside mirrors, wire wheels, a "Continental kit" rear-mounted spare tire, rear fender skirts, and a signal-seeking Town & Country radio. Formerly in the Jerry Capizzi and the Wayne Davis collections, it sold in 2008 for $55,000,

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